Even though the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had announced that it is working towards cessation of waivers on crewing of vessels in the next five years with its Cabotage Compliance Strategy (NCCS), fresh indications have emerged that Nigerian waters are still dominated by foreigners from neighboring ports.
When the agency announced at a stakeholders meeting in March 2019 that it was ending the 16years waiver in the Cabotage law, the Director General, Dakuku Peterside had called on stakeholders to cooperate with the Agency to realise its objective, assuring that the new strategy holds a huge potential to create jobs, add to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and bring about a boom in the economy.
Investigations carried out by DAILY TREND NEWS has however revealed that some shipowners and fishing trawler owners may be ready to work with NIMASA on this new effort.
Speaking with our correspondent, an authoritative source in one of the maritime unions who pleaded anonymity said that Nigerian shipowners have refused to corporate with NIMASA, as many of them sideline Nigerian seafarers but prefer to crew Ghanian seafarers, Togolese and other nationals.
According to him, this was the major reason why the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) which seeks to review seafarers wages could not succeed in Nigeria for six years.
Apparently, the shipowners were not ready to agree to payment of seafarers with international standards, rather they prefer to pay Togolese and Ghanaians who do not have a voice and would settle for whatever they get.
He said, “Though NIMASA is trying to ensure that Seafarers get a better condition of service, our major challenge is the ship owners, the shipowners themselves do not even want the progress of Nigerian seafarers”
“The same Nigerian shipowners will go and crew Ghanian seafarers and other nationals because they don’t want to belong to the NJIC and to pay their crew the normal standard, this has been their practice from time immemorial”
Another source who spoke with our correspondent charged NIMASA to beam its searchlight on fishing trawler owners, alleging that fishing trawlers are most culpable in the illegal crewing onboard their vessels.
The fishing trawlers are involved in this practice, though they belong to the agricultural sector, onboard the vessels, you find Ghanaians, Togolese and so on, they employ all these foreigners because they don’t have mouth to speak” he said
NIMASA had said that its Cabotage Compliance Strategy was aimed at encouraging indigenous participation in shipping, particularly with regard to manning, which is the core of Cabotage waivers.
The agency had assured that the policy is not targeted at driving away foreigners but to encourage full participation of Nigerians in the manning element of the Cabotage pillars.
“The aim of the NIMASA’s new waiver regime is to ensure a full takeover of the manning aspect of Cabotage vessels operating within the maritime territorial limit of Nigeria by qualified Nigerians who are currently not being given opportunities by foreigners”